Mistakes of the Past – Guest Post

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it, and she hasn’t regretted a moment.

She writes YA under the name Patricia Lynne, and I met her on Twitter during #StoryDam chats. Here’s her take on writing the ending of her latest book:

I’m a panster, so when I write, I don’t have an outline or even a plan for the story. What starts me is a character or a scene that excites me and I can’t get it out of my head fast enough. I start writing with zero direction. That often means I have no idea how to end the story. I don’t figure it out until I’m there, staring at the screen, and wondering how to save the day.

The ending to Mistakes of the Past went through quite a few different versions before I finally got it right. Luc went from three chances at redemption to one, back to three, then finally one. There was a sex scene, but that got axed. Another scene moved from one location to another. Parts got cut, then added back in and adjusted to fit. Whole elements I researched were discarded. Even lines I loved didn’t make the final cut.

It was quite the evolution. Sometimes you have to fight to get it right, to find the perfect resolution that readers love. I hope this ending is one that readers will enjoy. At the very least, I enjoy the ending. That’s got to be a good sign, right?

There’s a lot to unpack in this answer.

  • What strikes your spark? Is it a first line, a character, or a scene? Does it talk to you until you have to get it down or is it fleeting? Do you carry a notebook or use your phone to capture these story-starters?
  • Are you comfortable with letting your spark lead you around for awhile, knowing you might have to cut and paste and edit to get the story pared down to a manageable meander? Or, do you have to have a path and structure before you start putting a lot of words on the paper?
  • If you are a complete pantser, do you ever abandon projects because you can’t tug your skirts straight or because you can’t find your way to the end? (This is a large part of why I’ve started combining both methods. I have too many projects left unfinished or with holes I can’t fill.)
  • Have you mastered ‘killing your darlings’? This is a big one, and I think a real sign of growth in a writer. Sometimes, you can’t even see that something needs to go until three beta-readers later and a stack of rejections. (Hint: recycle! I have a folder where I keep EVERY word I’ve ever cut.)
  • Please note, wrestling/fighting/cutting. Getting to a final version of a story is often a battle. Take care of yourself. Reward the effort. Find comrades. And don’t give up!

 

You can find Mistakes of the Past plus more of Patricia’s work here and here.

She also has a website and a newsletter to keep you writing and inspired.

 

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